Port of LB Releases Draft LNG EIR
(October 10, 2005) -- Extending the public comment period fifteen days and scheduling community comment locations in NLB, ELB, WLB and downtown LB (info below), LB's Board of Harbor Commissioners on Oct. 10 released a draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on a proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility proposed to be built and operated in the Port by Mitsubishi-Conoco via subsidiary Sound Energy Solution (SES).
The draft EIR/EIS, jointly prepared by PoLB and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staffs and released Oct. 7 on FERC's website (previously reported by LBReport.com) is now also posted on PoLB's website.
The document says Port and FERC staffs will recommend to their respective commissions that the 80+ million gallon LNG facility is the environmentally preferable/superior alternative that can meet the project objectives.
Harbor Commissioners were tight-lipped in procedurally starting the clock ticking on the public comment period.
Harbor Commission president Doris Topsy-Elvord, a former Councilmember known for speaking off the cuff, stuck close to written material. Public input was allowed on the agendized item (whether to release the document).
Citing an August 2005 Council vote that asked the Port to make safety the overriding consideration in all decisions regarding the LNG project, LB writer and project critic Bry Myown of LB Citizens for Utility Reform urged Harbor Commissioners not to release the EIR/EIS.
Ms. Myown asked the Harbor Commission to instruct its Hazard Analysis consultant to adjust the radiant heat standard used in its report (and followed by FERC) to reflect the more protective level urged by the CA Energy Commission and (in testimony by Dr. Jerry Havens) the CA Public Utilities Commission:Ms. Myown: From what I can see of the EIS that I've already obtained from the FERC website, it does conclude that none of the events considered credible could produce radiant impacts that could affect the public outside of the port boundary lines, and I hope that those of you who may at times view me as an opponent appreciate the irony that I am, in all actions pertaining to this, acting as a volunteer to protect what is inside the Port boundary lines, which is under your jurisdiction.
However, you have also, per your risk management plan, ordered a Hazard Assessment from Quest Consulting...[B]ecause the City Council of Long Beach has unanimously voted to instruct you of their desire that public safety should be your overriding concern, I want to call to your attention that Quest based their analysis on the radiant heat threshold standard contained in FERC's [actually NFPA's] rule 59A of  kW/m2.
Now the California Energy Commission, acting in coordination with the state LNG permitting working group which includes a number of agencies including the city and port of Long Beach, made its recommendation to FERC on Sept. 7 that you should use a higher standard of 1.5 kw.
The reason for this is at the figure that FERC considers safe, second degree burns can be produced in 20 seconds, and the NFPA White Paper on this subject that voted not to use a higher standard says that that is an acceptable standard because people wear clothing, can run away and can take shelter in buildings.
What it does not go on to say is that within ten to twenty seconds more those can become third degree burns and ultimately buildings can ignite.
You supervise people who will be trapped on an island that has very few buildings in it, and many people over the bridge will still be subject to that radiant heat. Therefore, for your consideration, I would ask that you not release this until you have your consultant adjust its standards to that recommended by the California Energy Commission, by the CPUC's recent submission of testimony by Dr. Jerry Havens, and in accordance with the Council's directive that public safety be the overriding consideration.
The Commission did not respond to Ms. Myown's suggestion.
Other testimony came from Diana Lejins (wearing an anti-LNG T-shirt) who urged the Commission to note recent natural disasters abroad. Another speaker asked the Commission to have the comment period end after the Christmas and New Years holidays.
Following public input, Commissioner Hancock moved, seconded by Commissioner Hankla, that the draft EIS/EIR and Port Master Plan documents be released. The vote, without Commission comment, was 5-0.
Outside the meeting room, SES LB spokesman Jeff Adler commented to LBReport.com, "The document's out. We're glad that the process is beginning."
Ms. Myown said, "I think that since the City Council [five members] said they wanted to wait for the EIR, now I want to know what they intend to do with it."
The Harbor Commission named PoLB's Planning Division Director Bob Kanter, Ph.D. to serve as hearing officer for community comment meetings scheduled as follows:
- November 14, 6 p.m., LB City Council Chambers, City Hall,
- November 15, 6 p.m, Jordan High School, NLB (6500 Atlantic Ave.)
- November 30, 6 p.m., Millikan High School, ELB ) (2800 Snowden Ave.)
- December 1, Cabrillo High School, 6 p.m., WLB (2001 Santa Fe Ave.)
The PoLB also invited written comments to be received by the Port Planning Division or FERC on or before December 8.
The Port says in an informational flier:
...It is likely to take several months to prepare the final EIS/EIR depending on the extent of the comments and how long it takes toprepare responses. A final document is expected by mid-2006. FERC will release thje final EIS/EIR for an additional 30-day public review period.
Following completion of the environmental report, the Harbor Commission will be asked to certify the adequacy of the final EIR. If it does certify the EIR, the Board would have to decide whether or not to approve a Port Master Plan Amendment [which] would be forwared to the Coastal Commission for its approval.
If the Coastal Commission approves the Port Master Plan Amendment, the proposed project would come back to the Harbor Commission -- anticipated in late 2006 -- for a decision on whether or not to approve the project and issue a Harbor Development Permit. The Board would also have to decide whether or not to lease Port property to SES for development of the proposed LNG import terminal.
Copies of the 700+ EIR/EIS are available in digital form on-line [comment: kudos] at www,polb.com and www.ferc.gov. Copies are also available at the City Clerk’s office at City Hall, at local libraries and at the Port Administration Building, 925 Harbor Plaza.
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